MP&F’s Top 25 PR Questions

June 18, 2012

McNeely Pigott & Fox is celebrating 25 years in business during 2012, and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by answering the 25 questions we are most asked about our business.

Question 2:  What do you do all day?

By Andrew Maraniss

Last week, David Fox answered the question, “What is PR?” This week, we take on the typical follow-up to that question, which often goes something like “OK, but what do you really DO every day?” Don’t tell me the theory, they say, tell me what you actually do.

Because every day – and every hour of every day – is different for all of us, I thought a good way to address this question would be to walk around the office, catch people at their desks, and ambush them with the simple question: “What are you doing right now?”

Of course, even this approach doesn’t present an entirely accurate picture. A lot of people weren’t at their desks – they were in meetings with clients, out at events, or traveling. Much of our most important work, after all, takes place outside the walls of our office. And I didn’t happen to catch anyone doing some of the things that are actually quite common around here, like analyzing a survey, dealing with a client in crisis, or working on the batting order for our company softball team. That said, this snapshot of what people were doing around 9:30 a.m. on a recent Wednesday morning provides a pretty accurate account of the kinds of things we do every day. As I walked around the office, I discovered staffers who were:

  • Scouring through a digital photo album from a client event in Iowa, looking for ideal pictures to place in printed materials and on a website
  • Preparing a “pitch” email to an editor at the Tennessean on efforts one client is making to retain top talent
  • Building a database of media contacts in Cincinnati for an event taking place next week
  • Drafting a press release and preparing Facebook updates on a client’s recent new hires
  • Creating a run-of-show and coordinating logistics for a day-long public event in rural Tennessee
  • Writing a report to a D.C.-based client on the recent progress of a grassroots campaign
  • Reading a health care trade publication to learn more about an industry trend
  • Scanning “designer blogs” to see what people are saying about a retail client
  • Editing a set of questions to be sent to a university professor who will be making a presentation at a client conference
  • Calling a Philadelphia-based Ben Franklin impersonator (“Philadelphia’s Freshest Franklin!”) to make travel arrangements for his trip to Tennessee
  • Making last-minute preparations for a professional development conference for 950 state educators
  • Creating a graphic to explain the concept of “cloud” computing
  • Emailing a local executive to arrange a meeting with a client with a shared interest
  • Poring over a spreadsheet detailing the budget for an upcoming project
  • Researching the branding efforts of a technology client’s competitors
  • Contacting interior designers to schedule appearances at a retail store’s grand opening
  • Making tweaks to print and online advertisements for an event featuring a half-scale replica of a DC-3 airplane made entirely of balloons
  • Editing video footage from a recent on-location shoot
  • Creating a strategy to increase business at an area restaurant
  • Answering questions for an RFP for public health-related work in Memphis
  • Emailing a client for input on a four-color poster design
  • Preparing a memo outlining a media relations strategy for a new client prospect
  • Designing a new logo for a longtime client

The interesting thing about this job is that I could have returned to all of these same people an hour later, and the majority of them would have been working on something completely different. This job isn’t for everyone, but for people who enjoy the variety of issues, industries, people and places we deal with from one minute to the next, it’s a lot of fun. (And, hey, somebody better get on that softball lineup. Playoffs start tomorrow).


4 Responses to “MP&F’s Top 25 PR Questions”

  1. Andrew, a great overview of the day in the life of a PR/marketing professional.

  2. Glad to know I’m not the only one who receives that question!

  3. […] for relationships and connections – especially in the public relations business, where so much of what we do is based upon connecting audiences with the stories our clients have to tell. We are relational […]

  4. […] that. Check out David Fox’s earlier post on the definition of PR and Andrew Maraniss’ about what we do every day to get a better sense of how PR makes a difference for our […]

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